As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
Google has launched a new search filter to its “advanced search page” that allows people to sort content based on reading level — basic, intermediate, or advanced. Google thinks The Millions lands in the middle. Search your website using the feature to see how Google rates it. (Disclaimer: we can’t see any rhyme or reason to their ratings.) (Update for you visitors from Gawker: If this Google business bores you – and lets be honest, it’s not that exciting – stick around and check out our much more scintillating Year in Reading series, featuring Margaret Atwood, John Banville, Sam Lipsyte and all manner of literary luminaries.)
Recommended Reading: Jesse Eisenberg’s stream of conscious New Yorker short story, “A Short Story Written With Thought-to-Text Technology.” “When he was younger he used to stay late after school on Fridays and come in early on Mondays, a pattern his mother referred to with equal parts admiration and disdain as ‘studying overtime.’ Jesus, I’ve written another loser.”
Well, that’s one way to get the youth involved in politics. According to this piece over at The Daily Beast, “Before Tinder, before shopping malls, drive-ins, or speak-easies, young people searched for a place to meet and flirt. In 19th century America, wild political rallies offered the perfect opportunity.”
A couple years ago, Robert Birnbaum interviewed Edith Pearlman for The Millions, asking why the highly regarded short story writer didn’t hit it big until recently. Now, in the Times, Laura van den Berg reads Pearlman’s book Honeydew, in a piece that nicely complements Steve Almond’s profile of the author. FYI, Laura van den Berg has written for us.
New this week is The Tiger’s Wife, the hotly anticipated debut of Téa Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 from last year. Also new in the fiction aisle is Carol Edgarian’s Three Stages of Amazement. David Brooks’s latest pop sociology effort The Social Animal is now out — this one, excerpted in the New Yorker — sets itself apart from similar tomes by illustrating its findings through a pair of fictional characters. Now out in paperback are National Book Award winner Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon, Ian McEwan’s Solar, and Rebecca Skloot’s non-fiction blockbuster The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.